Lesson 18: Test… test… test…. but do not


Always test in your web based business, but do not allow tests results to alter the integrity of your vision… mission and plan.

One of our maxims for success in your internet business is to test… test…. test.

Growing a business requires knowledge that testing can bring.

However.

Growing a business also requires a balance of capital, knowledge (from testing), experience, staff, training and product line.

A subscriber to this course recently asked “why do you only send a link to your website each day?”

He told us that at his site he tested and found that he obtained much better results when he sent the entire message in HTML instead of just a link.

Here is my reply.

Thanks for asking.  I used to send the entire emailed message, but made a decision to switch based entirely on the matter of time.

To place the entire message on our emailer takes some extra time and for quite some time we have been swamped.

So I switched to this easier mode.

Our business model uses the web to qualify rather than increase numbers so in a way if our short message culls out those not really interested this might be good… less emails to answer… etc.

This is a peculiar way of doing business but it work for us.  Each month over the past three years, since we began tracking, our Month On Month sales have grown.   Our list size grows every day.

That’s all I look at right now…  sales… list size… complaints vs raves… plus of course our bank account.   We have to keep our bankers and suppliers happy.

If sales, list and compliments are growing…  and we have more money than we started with at the end of the month… I am happy.

We have not had the time to measure more than this… YET.

That’s the pitfall of a small business… not enough time to do everything perfectly.

I stress the word YET because test mailings comparing sending the entire message versus just a link are on our list of priorities and we will be doing this soon.

When we make these tests I’ll report to you the results.  If sales increase we’ll change this aspect of our daily message.

Our business is working well.  Sales are up about 30% per annum.  Merri and I and our webmaster are so busy… we are often out of time at the end of the day.

The solution?   Change the business plan or hire staff (which is a changed plan in a way).

We have added help… but help must be well trained so they can provide good service.   We can expand further once they are trained… but during training it gets even busier!

Little good comes from diverting resources to increase sales unless the entire structure of the business is ready to handle it.  Imbalanced sales… without good service leads to loss of good clients.. the most valuable asset of all.

Plus test do not always tell the entire story.

For example, we get many of our new readers via good rankings at search engines.   Part of our good search engine rankings are based on the number of readers visiting our site.

If I send the entire message via email, more readers might read and buy.  Sales will rise but fewer people will; be reading my message at my site.   Rankings at the search engines might drop.

Tests might show that short term… sales rise.   Long term new readers might fall and in the long term sales might drop because of lost readers.

One good way to spot long term trends is to keep a log of tests and actions you take based on the tests.  Then look back at sales… and profits… and the stress in your business to see the longer term impact of your decisions.

Plus I do not make changes easily without a test.

I am always cautious about accepting results of someone else’s tests.  One has to view their business as a whole… in the context of its relationship with its clients.

For example when Merri and I had our print publishing business our direct mail marketing was so low pressure and so filled with nformation that readers often thought it was a newsetter.

I studied a test one of our friendly competitors had done that suggested that sales increased 30% when a stamped reply envelope was included with the email. I decided to test this before making it a regular feature in our marketing.

I mailed 20,000 marketing letters. All were identical in every way except half had a stamped reply envelope.

The 10,000 letters WITHOUT the stamped envelope outsold those with the envelope by 10 to 1!

Why?

My customers normally saw my marketing as useful information.

The addition of the stamped prepaid envelope converted the image of my efforts from useful data to a marketing piece… so it was more often chucked in the garbage without being read.

Test… test… test… yes… but keep your business balanced and watch for long term results as well as immediate data garnered from your tests.

Gary